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Steve Richardson | Tillsonburg, Ontario
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A continuing work & a fresh start, part 1
Posted by: Steve Richardson Bible Ministry | more..
1,640+ views | 110+ clicks | 2 user comments

Faith Presbyterian Church (ARP) was planted in 2012. As a church we subscribed in full to the Westminster standards, and we were resolved from the beginning that our allegiance would go to Jesus Christ alone. We knew Him to be the only Head and King of the Church.

I personally took the crown rights of King Jesus seriously enough that I signed my copy of the Solemn League and Covenant in September 2013 and then renewed that commitment by signing it again in 2014 and 2015. From the beginning of my ministry as Presbyterian minister I emphasized God's right to govern and regulate His own worship. Similarly, I emphasized Christ's authority over governments and nations; and I regularly reminded the congregation of the charge of Jesus Christ to every would-be disciple to "deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." I grew up reading the stories of martyrs, and as I saw 'dark clouds' looming on the horizon I warned of coming persecution and urged faithfulness and loyalty to Jesus whatever the cost. I was certainly not alone in doing this! Many pastors were doing the same.

When we learned of covid we all thought it had the potential to be deadly on a scale we hadn't before experienced. But there was never any question in my mind as to what we should do. In my Baptist days we hadn't closed for SARS or the swine flu. In 14 years ministry I hadn't closed for inclement weather or power outages, so it seemed obvious that we wouldn't now close for covid. When the civil authorities limited the size of gatherings it was immediately clear to me that they had no authority to do so. We had a duty to gather. Safe or not we were bound to do so for Christ. In an open letter to the Church (in April 2020) I wrote the following:

"In previous generations for a member of a family to confess “Jesus is Lord” was to put his entire family (and sometimes extended family) in jeopardy. To gather for worship was an activity that brought the wrath of magistrates down not only on individuals, but also families and communities. Still, God’s people confessed “Jesus is Lord” and still they gathered. While I was in Djibouti I had the privilege of witnessing courage in the face of persecution. Converts from Islam would gather secretly to praise God because their discovery meant imprisonment or death. Yet, their shouts of joy and victory could be heard on the streets because they couldn’t contain themselves. Brothers it has never been safe to be a Christian. It has never been popular to imitate Jesus; and the choices made by the faithful to live by another law (God’s law) have rarely been seen as loving by a worldly wise Church or culture. Why? Because their standards and priorities are so different from God’s. Jesus warned, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Have you considered that we are trying to save men’s material, physical lives? Remember the context. Jesus was speaking of His dying, and Peter lovingly (but firmly) rebuked Him. He loved Jesus and didn’t want Him to die. I would urge you to consider Jesus’ answer: “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” What was Peter’s problem? He was savouring the things of men rather than the things of God. I believe this is just the mistake we are making now. We are savouring the things of men rather than the things of God. It is man’s logic that says that the life and health of the body is everything."

By keeping the church open I was simply acting on the principles I had always held as a Christian and principles which I had been preaching as a Baptist and as a Presbyterian. My actions in 2020 and 2021 were not new. Church closures were.

Sadly, our actions created tensions with our presbytery. They insisted that we ought to be obeying the government and considered our disobedience to the state an egregious sin against God. After efforts to address growing tensions with the presbytery failed, our Session unanimously decided to lead the congregation out of the ARP. When that vote did not get the 2/3 majority it needed, and when the elders saw that the presbytery was talking about removing the entire Session, they called a congregational meeting. At that meeting they told the congregation they would be leaving the building to the Canadian Presbytery of the ARP and joining me in a continuing work.

Today we are gathering in a tent. There is a sense in which though the Canadian Presbytery of the ARP has kept the building and the name, the work which began in 2012 has continued. The principles that bound us then and which governed our actions these last 9 years still bind us.

We have seen the broader Church tossed to and fro. We have seen men - leaders in the church of Jesus Christ - who ought to have been steadfast and immovable, unsteady, inconsistent and changing with the tides of opinion. Ultimately - and tragically - we have seen a badly compromised Church taking the crown from Christ's head and putting it upon the head of the civil magistrate.

Though we grieve over what has happened in Zion, we are committed to the Scriptures and determined to maintain the crown rights of King Jesus. With His help we will remain steadfast and immovable. What we are doing now as we gather for worship is what we have been doing since the beginning. And by God's grace we will continue, come what may.

“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ… To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me (Galatians 1:10, 2:5-6).”


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Florin Motiu | Oradea, Romania  Contact via emailFind all comments by Florin Motiu
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Yesterday, in our prayer meeting, I read this report and we all prayed for you and for your church. May the Lord bless you and continue to guide you in His will!

Blog Item12/6/2021 12:40 AM
Florin Motiu | Oradea, Romania  Contact via emailFind all comments by Florin Motiu
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Yesterday, in our prayer meeting, I read this report and we all prayed for you and for your church. May the Lord bless you and continue to guide you in His will!

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